TEHRAN (The Thursday Times) — The sudden attack on Israel by Hamas last Saturday, which caught Israel’s vaunted security forces off guard, was not a spur-of-the-moment assault. According to senior members from Hamas and Hezbollah, the attack was the result of meticulous planning and coordination with Iranian security officials. This revelation underscores the deepening entanglement of Iran in the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Iran’s security apparatus, particularly officers from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), had reportedly been working closely with Hamas since August to devise a multi-pronged assault involving air, land, and sea incursions. These efforts mark a significant and deadly escalation, deemed as the most severe breach of Israel’s borders since the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
A series of meetings held in Beirut, Lebanon, attended by IRGC officers and representatives of four Iran-backed militant groups, including Hamas and Hezbollah, were instrumental in refining the details of the operation. This not only revealed a higher level of operational coordination among these groups but also showed Iran’s direct role in escalating the conflict.
The U.S., however, has not yet seen evidence of Iran’s hand in this particular attack. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a recent CNN interview, noted the lack of evidence linking Iran to the attack, though acknowledging the long-standing relationship between Iran and these militant groups.
Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi praised the attacks, with Khamenei reiterating the eradication of the “Zionist regime” through the collective efforts of the Palestinian people and regional resistance forces.
Israel, on the other hand, has blamed Iran, at least indirectly, for the attacks. Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, pointed to meetings in Syria and Lebanon among leaders of terror armies surrounding Israel as indicative of a coordinated effort, especially among Iran’s proxies in the region.
The broader strategy of the IRGC appears to be creating a multi-front threat to Israel, coordinating with militant groups like Hezbollah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in the north, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas in Gaza and the West Bank. This multi-front strategy is aimed at stretching Israel’s military thin and altering the balance of power in the region.
A senior Hamas official, Mahmoud Mirdawi, however, claimed that the attack was a Palestinian and Hamas decision, refuting the involvement of external influences in the planning.
Various Iranian officials have also conveyed their approbation to Hamas. Iranian government representatives extended their congratulations to Hamas on the surprise attack, expressing support for the “anti-Zionist resistance”. Additionally, the chief of Iran’s Quds Force communicated his approval to a Hamas leader in a phone call, underscoring Iran’s backing for Hamas in its conflict with Israel. A senior adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei further echoed this sentiment, lauding the attack as a “proud operation”. Meanwhile, Iran’s foreign ministry characterized the attacks by Hamas as an act of self-defense by the Palestinians, and encouraged Muslim countries to extend their support.